Exploring the Karst

Exploring Trieste Karst Plateau

Embraced on one side by the Adriatic Sea and on the other by a headland of karst, Trieste, a Central European city unusually gifted with Mediterranean colours and fragrances, also boasts a wealth of natural resources and landscapes of rare beauty.

The variety of the area, beyond being an enchanting sight for anyone’s eyes, offers the chance to participate in many activities in contact with nature. The Trieste gulf is the perfect place for aquatic sports, especially sailing, which is deeply treasured in the regional capital, where they host a spectacular regatta each year known as the Barcolana.

The Karst region (Carso), on the other hand, is an ideal place to admire the sea from tall cliffs that plunge down into the blue waters of the Adriatic.

The most incredible plateau in Italy

This rocky limestone plateau frames the whole east border of Friuli Venezia Giulia and offers extraordinary scenery for running, walking or hiking, bicycling, horse riding or, for the fearless, climbing.

Whichever you enjoy, your eyes will be seduced by the wonderful contrasts between the white of the limestone, the red of the smoke trees and the blue of the sea.

If you run as a hobby, you might be waiting for The Colour Run 2015, a 5-km run that is more colourful and fun than ever. If, on the other hand, you are a serious runner, probably you will sign up for Bavisela or the Green Europe Marathon, which is held in a stretch of breath-taking countryside that goes right by Karst.

The karst headland is a unique place to train on trails of varying difficulty. One of the more fascinating is the Napoleonica, a beautiful 5-km path that joins Opicina Obelisk with Prosecco. In Prosecco, those ready for more of a challenge can try a harder route with several ascents and descents, leading to the Monte Grisa square, where you can contemplate the imposing Mariano Temple and then continue to the end of the Way of the Cross and take the Nicolò Cobolli path that leads back to the starting point near the Obelisk.

Those less athletically inclined can enjoy simple walks along the Napoleonica, with an incredible panorama facing the Trieste Gulf, and Trieste’s Karst boasts many other routes that will stun you with the beauty surrounding them.

You should not miss the Rilke Trail, an easy walk of only 1700 metres, possibly the loveliest and most striking of all because of its literary and historical background. The trail is named for Rainer Maria Rilke, the Austrian poet of Bohemian ancestry who was a guest at the Duino Castle between 1911 and 1912, the place where he began composing his Duino Elegies.

This castle, in fact, is a backdrop to the route, which is made even more enchanting by the exciting view of the steep white cliffs around it. The historic part may be seen in the old firing ranges that date back to World War II, which today are spectacular natural terraces that soften the sad memories they are linked with.

But what is incredible about this area are the paths leading to breathtaking landscapes. Colours will capture your sight whilst the fusion of nature, sea and sky make Trieste simply a unique experience.

If you like to see the countryside while zipping along on a bicycle, the Karst area has several biking trails you will enjoy. Mountain bike enthusiasts can venture along the 30-km Mediterranean Crossing that runs from Aurisina to Val Rosandra, offering splendid views of the sea, or on the Muggesana Crossing, an 11-km itinerary that goes from Punta Sottile to the Noghere Lakes and can also be taken in while walking or riding a horse.

The trail dedicated to cyclist Giordano Cottur covers a section of the old railroad that used to join the Trieste Campo Marzio to that of Erpelle, and winds for 12 km from Via Orlandini to Draga Sant’Elia, again in the enchanting Val Rosandra.

Whether walking or pedalling, when you reach this valley, today a Nature Preserve, you will be astonished by its overhanging walls, by the caverns in this area and the wonderful Rosandra Waterfall, the only surface waterway in Karst.

Val Rosandra, so magical with its greenery, is also known for its rock climbing. Its tall cliffsides, and the walls of Napoleonica, Costiera and Sistiana, are an excellent choice if you are a fan of sport climbing. You will get a thrill from the trails blazed by the great Emilio Comici, who in 1929 founded his alpine climbing school right there in Val Rosandra.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginning climber or an expert, because when you reach the peak, your satisfaction will be great, and so will the excitement of finding yourself face to face with nature in an untouched state.

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